As my business partner (with twin three-year-old girls) and I sat in our seats waiting for our plane to taxi, a man with his daughter fast asleep on his shoulder, his wife and two other kids walked calmly down the aisle. Although we were scheduled to take off any minute, the wife (along with the flight attendants) choreographed the most amazing dance of changing seats I’ve ever seen. More amazing, however, was the patience with which she did it.
My partner and I just watched as eight different people moved from seat to seat until her husband and daughter were sitting directly in front of us and her two other kids were a couple of rows behind us. Where was she going to sit? Nowhere. Turns out there weren’t any seats left. She said to her husband, “I’ll just take the next flight. See you in Denver.”
As she started to walk toward the front of the plane, one of the flight attendants asked where she was and another responded, “She’s going to take the next flight.” The first flight attendant looked to the husband. He just looked at her and whispered (as to not wake up his daughter who was sleeping next to him), “Yeah, it’s not a problem.”
The dude was going to fly alone with his three kids. And that was just fine with him. His son, maybe eight or nine years old, walked to his dad’s seat, “Where’s Mom?” Dad explained that there weren’t enough seats on the plane and she was going to meet the family in Denver later in the day.
I seriously couldn’t believe the entire exchange. I couldn’t believe that the family was handling it as calmly as they were. They obviously had tickets for everyone, but the fact that United (maybe the worst customer service on the planet) didn’t have a seat for Mom didn’t faze them at all. Then, I couldn’t believe that the Dad was equally calm, “No worries, honey, just leave me with the kids. I’ve got it handled.” I was truly amazed.
While I’ve gotten better about stressing during travel – I never would have been able to handle the dilemma facing this family. And, I certainly never would have been able to remain as calm as he and his wife were. Of course, there were the kids, too. They didn’t seem to mind that Mommy was taking off, either. K-Man might have spun his head all the way around and screamed bloody murder (probably).
I was just about to ask the dad for his secret (or to share his beta-blockers) when Mom came walking back up the aisle. “I’m just gonna put her on my lap.” Karma, I guess. She was going to be on the plane, after all.
I fell asleep as soon as we took off, and when I woke up, Mom was in the seat in front of me with two sleeping kids hanging on her. Dad had moved. None of her kids made a peep the entire flight. They were amazing, of course.